Floods in Northern Ghana have claimed a total of 35 lives from 2018 to 2020, according to statistics from the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).
Within the same period, the floods collapsed a total of 69 bridges, disconnecting some communities and rendering them inaccessible.
The statistics also indicated that in 2018 alone, about 100,000 people were displaced, bringing upon them untold hardships on the affected families.
STAR-Ghana Foundation has, therefore, been convening a series of dialogue sessions to initiate conversations and partnerships for joined-up efforts on long-term and sustainable solutions to the perennial flooding in Northern Ghana.
Madam Eunice Aabenyadzi, Programmes Manager, STAR-Ghana Foundation, in one of the forums in Wa noted that the forum would provide a platform for stakeholders to contribute to a roadmap and implementation plan for improving responses to the flood situations in Northern Ghana.
She said the annual torrential rainfall and the spillage of the Bagre Dam had often resulted in the flooding of communities along the White Volta Basin in Northern Ghana, which was associated with loss of lives, livelihoods, and property.
Madam Aabenyadzi pointed out that losses and destructions associated with the floods had often seen government and development partners through NADMO responding with temporary forms of relief.
She said most often, there were no resources for post-floods rehabilitation and reconstruction, which often left the affected persons vulnerable to subsequent foods.
The STAR-Ghana Programme Manager noted that floods have a long-lasting impact on the already fragile livelihoods, food security, access to education, and health, hence the need to shift from emphasizing the response towards the need for preparedness in building the resilience of communities.
“When you respond to floods, you are meeting the immediate needs of the communities, but beyond that, livelihoods have to be recovered and economies rebuilt – when we focus attention on resilience and preparedness, we will be contributing to long-lasting solutions on how to manage the situation”, she said.
Madam Aabenyadzi noted that government alone and a few organisations supporting NADMO would not be able to raise all the resources required to meet the short and long-term needs of the communities and families affected by the floods.
She said this was why they were targeting key stakeholders including churches, traditional authorities, and local and international civil society groups that were already working in the sector. She stressed that if they approached the issue from a collective perspective, they would be able to raise enough resources both internally and externally to address the perennial flood challenge.
Dr. Chrys Anab, Lecturer, Department for Sustainable Development Studies, University for Development Studies (UDS), Tamale, noted that people needed a minimum of two years to recover from the impact of floods, adding that, relief items were good, but reactionary measures were often not adequate to mitigate the suffering of the flood victims.
He said this explained the need for a coordinated response to the issue of floods and disaster risk reduction in the north and called for attitudinal change in favour of disaster mitigation efforts.
Mr. Peter Maala, Chief Director of the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council who delivered a speech on behalf of the Regional Minister, Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih, said the issue of flooding had become an annual ritual, which demanded concerted efforts to proffer sustainable solutions to it.
He described the forum as timely because very soon the Bagre Dam would be spilled by authorities of Burkina Faso and those living along the Black Volta needed to be sensitized to start organizing themselves to avoid any mishap.
He said it was sad to note that as many as 127 people were displaced by floods out of which 80 houses were destroyed in the Upper West Region in 2019 whilst in 2020, 775 people were displaced by floods with 111 houses destroyed.
Mr. Ahmed Mustapha, the Upper West Regional Director of NADMO disclosed that the Government of Ghana and the Government of Burkina Faso had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in respect of the spillage of the Bagre and Kompienga Dams, which enabled NADMO to always provide accurate and up-to-date information on the spillage of the dams to communities prone to flooding.
The joint action forum was organised by STAR-Ghana Foundation in collaboration with the Tamale Ecclesiastical Province Partnership for Action (TEPPIA) and Tama Foundation.